Personal, Reviews

Love All by Callie Wright

Although I’ve seen many lists of words women use that men should be afraid of, I feel the need to highlight a few of the more important ones:

Whatever: I do not always use it is the Clueless sense; sometimes I used it in lieu of an exclamatory curse word.
Nothing: Nothing is usually something. Except when it really is nothing. Know the difference.
Go ahead: Think long and hard before actually going ahead with whatever you were thinking about.

In Callie Wright’s debut novel ‘Love All’ (review copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review), she discusses (with astute clarity) the dangers of my favorite four letter word – fine.

Fine: an indecipherability at best, a calculated reduction at worst; his children’s catchall for every suspicion, doubt, boredom, delight, wonder, fear, disappointment; their most obscene four letter word.

Fine is dangerous, even from me. I’ve always considered myself an easy going person , mostly because there’s not much anyone can do to me that hasn’t already been done. Been abandoned for my best friend? Sure. Been stabbed in the back literally and figuratively? Yes and yes. Deceased parent? Yes. Ugly courtroom drama? Of course. Recipient of a love letter? Yes. Recipient of a break-up text? Yes (it was classy). Seen Jakob Dylan in concert? Definitely. Survived a hurricane? Yes. Survived a wind shear? Yes. Survived one truly horrific car crash? That too. I’ve not had the pleasure of a broken bone, but hundreds of stitches? Yes and I looked badass with my stitchery – my favorite bar story to tell is that my hand was accidentally severed and reattached.  Am I omitting a few things? Of course, but there’s not a lot left that would be a shock to my system. And as my honest and easy going nature would indicate, if I tell you nothing is wrong, odds are nothing is wrong. But if I tell you ‘it’s fine’…

Love All

‘Love All’ tells the story of three generations of the Cole-Obermeyer family as they are suddenly thrown together – under one small roof. Everything is fine (see definition above). Anne’s mother, the matriarch and beloved leader of the family, unexpectedly passes away. Anne’s father, fully expecting to have died first, moves in with his daughter and her family. Anne just wants to go back in time. Hugh, Anne’s husband, is having an affair. Her young daughter is, for the first time, experiencing unrequited love. Her son is afraid to go to college and bears witness to something that will change his world. In short – life is moving on, whether anyone is ready or not.

The novel covers many themes I love discussing: love and fidelity, sex (in the form of the hilarious The Sex Cure), coming of age, adolescence, small towns, and sports. It doesn’t matter how many times I read about scandals in small towns, it’s still entertaining. Although done with varying strengths, Wright alternates character viewpoints between chapters. By far the strongest and most entertaining are those narrated by 15 year old Julia. She is quirky, smart, and in the throes of young love. The weakest are those narrated by her caddish father Hugh, whose poor decision making is painfully apparent, but never truly explained.

Despite this minor flaw, the writing is superb and the story is absorbing. There is something comforting about the incessant drama of fictional characters – reading it and being able to say “I’m not the only one” – makes the story genuine and accessible. If you like intricate family drama set against the backdrop of a small town, read Callie Wright’s impressive debut ‘Love All’ – you won’t be sorry. 4/5.

And if your girlfriend or wife looks at you and says ‘whatever, it’s fine’, be very concerned and know that somewhere in the sentiment behind that sentence there is an obscene four letter word lurking. Interpret wisely (read: craft an apology forthwith).

Spinach QuesadillaOn one of the night’s Julia’s mother is unable to handle making dinner, Julia steps in and whips up Spinach Quesadillas. Not bad for a 15 year old…


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